lentil beet salad chocolate mirror glaze hazelnut pralines and hazelnut praline paste naturally colored homemade sprinkles and yuki's birthday


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archive for baking

improvements

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Recipe: olive roasted garlic lemon rosemary sourdough crown

I hope everyone had a nice holiday season and enjoyed ringing in the new year! We kept things very low key here, because after all of the rush of holiday baking, package shipping, and making our Year in Photos digital card, I was over the holidays before they had even begun. Done with being social. Done with sweets. Done with being exhausted without the benefit of a proper workout. It was the culmination of several things, but two in particular: Yuki and tamoxifen. Ever since we got Yuki this summer, we’ve been active in puppy training, but not active in that day-long big hike or backpacking adventure or even trail running way. Then I went off of tamoxifen in September, and I think I may have gained some (additional) weight as a result of that. I just felt completely shitty.

Enough, I decided. Time to put my health first. I started working out daily either skate skiing, uphill skiing, or indoor training. It coincided perfectly with the holidays because all I remember was exercising hard, sleeping a lot, and feeling really tired. This is how I kick myself out of a funk, and I definitely felt better and more like myself after a week.


enjoying the views and getting my fitness back on the nordic trails

skiing beaver creek



We also shifted Yuki’s winter training into high gear. Jeremy really liked the idea of skiing with our dogs, but he dreaded sacrificing ski days to get the pups sorted out. Contrary to what people think, training our pups involves a lot of untangling of leashes, stopping to adjust harnesses or booties, yelling, and very little actual skiing. On the one hand we have Neva who, while adjusting well to her “calm down” meds, is still highly excitable and reactive when outside. On the other hand we have Yuki who wants to jump on Neva’s head, jump off the track into the deep snow, and bark at/hide from unfamiliar people and random plants. It’s a bit of a clusterfuck, but we got it sorted out! Yuki is a great little ski pup, although she runs out of gas much faster than Neva. We’ll see if it’s just age and fitness or if she’s simply a short-distance runner.

jeremy skates with both dogs (but one-on-one is much better)

uphill skiing with the pups



One major part of Yuki’s training was Free Range Yuki. Whenever we left the house, Yuki went into her crate and we cordoned off the main room so Neva would always be in plain view. It makes Yuki incredibly upset if Neva is out of her sight because how else can you be the boss of someone? If we crated Yuki with a mat or blanket, she would chew and ingest said mat or blanket. I felt at 11 months, it was time for Yuki to transition from the crate to Free Range Yuki, because we wanted more freedom for us as well as for her. We started by setting up a web cam in the main room and leaving the house for 30 minutes. We just sat in the car in the driveway and monitored the pups. Neva was fine, Yuki was puzzled, but settled down after 25 minutes. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve increased the time away as well as gone to various local hangouts within a 10 minute drive to work and observe the pups. Yuki is much better behaved when we are not around. She and Neva sleep or look out the window or grab a drink of water, but otherwise they are super chill. Yuki can be a bratty and bossy little sister to Neva when we are home, but when we’re not in the house, she looks to Neva for comfort and companionship.

watching yuki from the crested butte public library



Of course, just as things started to find a rhythm, I caught a cold last week. I’m finally on the mend, but this was not the way I wanted to lose weight. There’s nothing like being sick to remind you to take advantage of feeling good when you can.

And on an unrelated note, I found myself in the pages of the 2019 Caltech Alumni Association’s magazine. If you know anything about my alma mater, then you will understand when I say that I never expected to see a mention of me except possibly on the occasion of my passing (which I’d never see). I’m saving a copy for my mom.


who says nothing good comes from social media



There happens to be a recipe for you after all that yada yada. While Jeremy would be perfectly content if I only ever made sourdough baguettes, I personally enjoy bread with mix-ins. In today’s case, it is sourdough bread with roasted garlic and olives. But it doesn’t stop there! Years ago I fell in love with a sourdough crown that I used to purchase from Cured in Boulder. It was topped with olive oil, sea salt, rosemary, and lemon zest. How lovely to turn an already extraordinary roasted garlic and olive boule into a crown adorned with all of those goodies. Shall we?

the bread: sourdough levain, water, olive oil, bread flour, whole wheat flour, olives, salt, (more) water, and garlic



If you are new to sourdough baking, it’s important to point out that making sourdough bread is not a quick process and requires a little bit of planning on your part. I start by mixing my levain the night before I make and shape the dough. To make the levain, you need some well-fed starter, which for me means feeding my starter the morning before the night I feed the levain. 8-12 hours after feeding usually results in a happily bubbly starter. My kitchen is cold overnight (about 55°F in winter), so I try to give the levain 12 hours to become active and full of bubbles by the time I’m ready to start the dough the following morning. Bubbles are a sign that the wild yeast are doing their job – eating and producing carbon dioxide. The levain should float in water.

the levain is ready

dissolve the levain in water

add your flours

mix until there are no dry pockets of flour and the dough is shaggy



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out of sync

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

Recipe: strawberry vanilla shortbread cookies

I know most of you already have your sights set on the December holidays, so please forgive me for rehashing last week’s Thanksgiving festivities. It was my intention to share this with you then, but a family emergency came up. It’s a good thing I didn’t plan a fancy meal. Well, that’s not entirely true. I planned a special plate for Neva, as always, and for Yuki, because it was her first Thanksgiving! And then it snowed and we enjoyed skiing and playing in the powder.


a plate for each pup

yuki had no idea what was going on

enjoying a proper start to the ski season

yuki chasing neva in the snow

a dazzling sunset



I posted the video of the pups eating their plates on Instagram and there is also a blooper cut. And thankfully the emergency turned out all right. Huge yay!

If you were hanging out in our house of late, you’d think it was spring because we have been engaging in what can only be classified as a giant Spring Cleaning in Autumn. It’s the stuff of nightmares for Jeremy because I say something as innocent as “let’s replace the sofas”. First we assess if we really do need to replace them. Yes, they’re 38 years old and ergonomically terrible for our backs when we sit on them. Then we calculate finances, find a good sale, determine the best model for our needs. Then the avalanche begins. Where are we putting the old sofas? And before you know it, we are moving half the furniture around in the house which makes me reorganize all of our books, gear, and storage and then I’m declaring that we need to donate or recycle a lot of old stuff that we haven’t needed nor unearthed in the last decade. Jeremy will be moving a bookcase and pause as I stare at the pantry. “None of that needs to be moved to make space for the couches,” he’ll mention in passing as Yuki happily shadows his every move.

But spring cleaning isn’t the only out of season activity I’ve been pursuing. Each fall I start getting nervous about the cookies I distribute in December and I feel compelled to add a new recipe to the rotating assortment. I tested a new one this fall. It’s definitely more of a spring or summer cookie, but I think people will like it no matter the season and I want to share the loveliness with everyone now.

What makes it a spring/summer cookie is the inclusion of strawberries. I had a lot of trouble finding chewy dried strawberries that weren’t loaded with sugar and opted to dehydrate my own. That meant I was the lady in all of the grocery stores examining every box of strawberries for the ripest ones I could find in October. There weren’t many, but there were some decent berries. If you are already worried about drying your own strawberries, never fear. I tested these with freeze-dried strawberries (which are pretty much everywhere) and they work. Some of my taste testers even preferred the freeze-dried to the dried strawberries. But I prefer the slight chew of the homemade dried strawberries. So I’ll show you how I dried my strawberries in my food dehydrator and then I’ll get to the cookies.


water, lemons, strawberries



I started with 4 pounds of ripe-ish strawberries which yielded about 3 cups of dried strawberries. The water and lemon juice mixture helps to prevent browning. If you are drying strawberries for snacks, you can cut the berries into 1/4-inch thick slices, but I wanted them chunky for the cookies, so I halved them. This increases the drying time and results in a little chewiness. How dry you want the slices is up to you. If you do leave them slightly soft, then use or consume them right away or store them longer term in the freezer.

hull the berries

combine the lemon and water

halve the strawberries

soak in the lemon-water for 5 minutes



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back in the saddle

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Recipe: chewy amaretti

I meant to take one week off from blogging as life began to (dog)pile up on me. I liked that week off from the blog so much it became three weeks. It’s a bit of an internal battle for me to give up as much time as I do to blog. Thanks for bearing with me as I reassess the balance of my time in the weeks and months ahead. If you seek the daily ins and outs of my life’s shenanigans, you can find those on my Instagram.

Life with Yuki continues to be mostly wonderful and a tiny bit frustrating. The frustrating aspects are just puppy stuff. And as puppies go, Yuki is pretty damn great. The snow has been falling this autumn, filling our high country with soft, fluffy white stuff. It’s been so good and cold that most of our ski resorts are opening ahead of schedule. The backcountry has been delightful, although there have been plenty of avalanches, so please be careful out there! Yuki went on her first ski tour over the weekend and had a blast. We think she will probably be a great ski dog if we can teach her to run forward instead of jumping on Neva’s head. I suspect much of that is the puppy in her.


yuki and neva on halloween

jeremy grabs some turns in the backcountry

moose passing through!

napping on new dog blankets i made (yuki chewed a hole in hers 2 days later)

yuki’s first ski tour – she’s a colorado mountain dog!



Today’s recipe for Italian amaretti cookies is RIDICULOUSLY simple, but took me forever to make. Why? Because I originally wanted to try a version that called for amaretto extract (not liqueur) and that amaretto extract got lost in the mail and has been touring the country for the past month. Thank you, USPS! Eventually, I settled on this recipe that doesn’t require amaretto extract (but I did add some amaretto liqueur). It packs all of the almond goodness into a tiny little cookie that is gluten-free, crunchy outside, and chewy inside. [EDIT: The bottle finally arrived 2 months after it shipped! Just in time for the holiday bakefest.]

almond extract, granulated sugar, powdered sugar (two bowls), salt, almond flour, marcona almonds, egg whites, amaretto liqueur



You don’t have to adorn your cookies with an almond (or a candied cherry) on top, but I love almonds and thought 1) it looks pretty and 2) it lets people with nut allergies know that this has nuts. Blanched almonds work well. I wanted to use marcona almonds for their extra sweetness, but all of the ones I found were flavored with truffle oil, rosemary, or sea salt. I bought some sea salt marcona almonds and rinsed them, then patted them dry with a towel. They worked great.

If you mix the dough by hand, it starts out sandy and unconsolidated, but keep at it and it will eventually turn into a sticky dough with the consistency of almond paste. If you use a stand mixer, the dough comes together in no time. I’ve tried both ways and I prefer using the mixer.


stir the almond flour, granulated sugar, 6 tablespoons of powdered sugar, and salt together

add the egg whites, almond extract, and amaretto liqueur

mix until cohesive

form a 6-inch disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate



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